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The Mapping of Love and Death by Jaqueline Winspear

Genre: Historical European Fiction, an Adult Nancy Drew

"A map is a conduit for wonder, a tool for adventure. But it is also an instrument of power - and like all things, power has two faces."

Maisie Dobbs is like the grown-up Nancy Drew. She is a private investigator who takes on missing persons cases and such. The book is set in the 1930's in London, so an independent woman who lives by herself and owns her own business is both unusual and pretty fucking nifty.

So Maisie has been hired by the wealthy Americans Mr. and Mrs. Clifton to find the girl their son Michael had a liason with during World War I. He died in the war, and they'd like to make contact with the girl, as mama has a suspicion there might have been a child. Like the good grandma she is, she'd like to find out for sure.

But Maisie quickly discovers that Michael did not die of the shelling of his bunker as the reports stated. He was murdered. She consults her mentor, Maurice, who is gravely ill during most of the book, and of course she has a love interest above her "station" which was still a thing in 1932, so it's very interesting to see how that plays out. I was rooting for the guy the whole time, his character was just perfect for her.

She has a lucky break here, a dead end there, and a little bit of push from Scotland yard too, because shortly after she takes the case, Mr. and Mrs. Clifton get attacked in their hotel room, and the detective on the case believes that the two cases are connected. From a reader's standpoint, that one is pretty obvious.

This was a fun read. I remember the Nancy Drew novels of my childhood, and I enjoyed those. This is a bit harder to follow, I didn't put the pieces together as we went along like I expected to, not until the very end when Maisie reveals all. So it seemed a bit of a stretch that she put them together in the way that she did without further bits and pieces to tie everything together. It seemed more a gut feeling she had, not evidence. Maybe someone else would have put it together, but I didn't.

I loved the Austen styled ending, which was a step away from what I was expecting. Expectation-wise, I expected something a bit scarier, or at least more thrilling, what with the red and black covers and the other titles in this series of Olive Editions. But overall a fun read, if a bit slow moving for my liking.

3 stars, I liked it, but I probably will not seek out the rest of the Maisie Dobbs books.

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